Life is busy. It is for everyone. BUT…our community wouldn’t be a community at all without everyone doing their part and chipping in! Not only is volunteering important to make our community a better place, but volunteering can have a slew of health benefits. Check this out!
Volunteering can can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, provide a sense of purpose, connect you to others, add fulfillment to your life, and even be FUN! This week we are going to dive more into the health benefits of volunteering and where you can volunteer and how to get started!
The Selfish Case For Volunteering
1. It Makes You Happy!
By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel. Volunteering increases self-confidence. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals!
2. It Preserves Your Health!
Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Older volunteers tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure, and have better thinking skills. Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease – the leading cause of death in the U.S.!
3. It Keeps You Moving!
Tough Schedule? Instead of volunteering for an organization, you could always do something yourself like take time to go pick up trash from a park or by a river or on a beach. Set up some garbage or recycle bins on places that might not have them like walking trails or outdoor places.
4. It Fosters Connections and Purpose!
Volunteering can help you make new friends with similar interests! Not ready to go at it on your own? Grab your family, kids, friends, etc! Set an example for others. Change drives change!
Find something that works for you and something that will provide a sense of purpose, something that resonates with your soul. Older adults, especially those who have retired or lost a spouse, can find new meaning and direction in their lives by helping others. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries and add a sense of purpose and value.
How do I get started?
ASK! Ask your friends, schools, work, do some research online, etc.
For our members in Northeast Wisconsin, you can look into: The NEW ZOO, the CP center, Botanical Gardens, Golden House, Paul’s Pantry, St Vincent de Paul, or in St Louis The Ronald McDonald House (www.rmhcstl.com/) and so many more! The possibilities are endless.
We have a good list of suggestions to begin with for you here, but of course there are incredible numbers of organizations doing good for your local community, and they almost all could use a helping hand!
Have a passion for cooking? Help prepare food at the homeless shelter or drive for meals on wheels. You can check out other opportunities through the county Aging & Disability Resource Center.
Perhaps consider contributing to a better world on a small scale, by being a mentor to children by partnering up with a “little” through Big Brother’s Big Sisters. Or in St Louis at the Crisis Nursery!
Prefer a “Hands On” approach? Volunteer at Habitat for Humanity! One of the many jobs at the Habitat for Humanity store is lifting and carrying items to and from the customers car and merchandise preparation. On a build site, volunteers lift, climb, and walk during construction tasks staying very active! Take a look at www.habitat.org to locate opportunities to help in your area.